Winning With God
The Ultimate Patch Notes
The world gives us so many different definitions of what “winning” looks like. Having a good job, having a home, having a family, building a business, etc.
But all of those things will never fulfill us like winning with God will.
The kicker, though, is that we don’t even have what it takes to win with God.
WHAT? you may be exclaiming.
In gaming, there's something called “Patch Notes,” which are the list of changes that are made to a game after an update. These changes can be to make certain items stronger or others weaker. These changes can add new items, areas, or characters. Usually, a game update changes how the players win in the game, and if they don’t read the patch notes, they won’t know how to win.
For instance, in the popular game Fortnite, a mechanic was added to the game called "redeploy." It allowed players to jump off of a high building and redeploy their parachute at any time to save them from getting hurt from the fall.
This became a very powerful strategy in combat and traversal in Fortnite, and players grew accustomed to winning with redeploy.
Then the developers of Fortnite removed it…
But many players didn’t read the patch notes. So they went to play Fortnite, jumped from a high place, and were left wondering why their parachute didn’t redeploy as they fell to their death. A strategy that they were used to winning with now caused them to lose.
We can look at the Bible almost like God’s Patch Notes on how to win with Him. In the Old Testament, there were three categories of laws that we needed to follow:
Civil Laws - dealt with the relationship between individuals, the settling of disputes, and the description of proper behavior.
Ceremonial Laws - dealt with the priesthood initiation and the procedures of sacrifices, which was the way the people would be forgiven from sins
Moral Laws - addressed right and wrong, based on God’s character (e.g. 10 Commandments)
To win with God, you had to follow all these laws which amounted to 613 separate laws in total! Even then, communicating with God was not something everyone got to enjoy. It was reserved for certain people with certain procedures.
BUT GOD CHANGED ALL OF THAT WITH THE NEW TESTAMENT PATCH NOTES
Let's take a look.
In the book of Galatians, Paul wrote about how God's laws work for us.
For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one. Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
Paul is saying that God’s own law from the Old Testament was cursed. It wasn’t good enough to save us, so God had to make an update to the way that we win with Him, and He did that through Jesus.
Most people get rid of the civil and ceremonial laws but keep the moral laws because those are based on God’s character, which is something that doesn’t change. So you would expect that the laws based on that wouldn’t change either, right?
But there’s a problem with that line of thinking because Jesus either died to set us free from ALL of the laws, or none of them. So He set us free from the moral laws as well.
But does that mean we are now free to lie, cheat, steal, etc?
By no means.
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master because you are not under the law, but under grace.
We now have a new reason to follow God’s standards. God’s laws are there to protect us, and we follow them out of our love for God. For instance, you shouldn’t stay faithful to your spouse because you are afraid of punishment, you should stay faithful because you love them. You shouldn’t tell the truth because God tells us not to lie. You should tell the truth because it’s healthy for your relationships.
Jesus didn’t die so that you could avoid the burden of rules, He died so that you can access the benefits of living a righteous life. He doesn't just ask us to follow rules, He invites us to gain the benefits that are a direct result of following His ways. This is a choice He gives us and because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we don’t do anything because we have to, we do everything because we want to.
"Jesus didn’t die so that you could avoid the burden of rules, He died so that you can access the benefits of living a righteous life."
But if you’re familiar with God, you may know that He is perfect. He doesn’t make mistakes, and He doesn’t change His mind, but according to the passage we read in Galatians, Paul is saying that the old way of winning with God is no longer valid. So why in the world would God CHANGE the way people win with Him?
But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one since the new covenant is established on better promises.
For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another.
By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.
Game devs make mistakes, and they realize old ways don’t always continue to work. But God doesn’t make mistakes, so He must have intended for the original way to not be good enough from the beginning.
But why? Why would God create a system that
was designed for us to lose if He loves us?
God didn’t give us the old laws so that we could prove that we could follow them, He gave it to us so that He could prove to us that we couldn’t.
We had to learn that we could never win without God because having a relationship with Him is the only way that we can win.
The world will say that we’re winners, but we will lose our lives falsely winning all the way to an eternal loss without God. And if we need to lose temporarily to realize that we need Him to win, then thank God He loves us enough to do that.
If you’re still trying to perform to impress God, you’re not doing it right. We obey not because we have to, but because we want to. The reality is that we’re already winning when we accept Christ as our Savior, and we obey because we are grateful for what He has done. Don’t serve Him so He won’t be mad, serve Him because you love Him and you’re thankful for all that He's done for you.
We couldn’t win with God on our own, so he won for us by sending His Son.
Adam and Eve had everything they needed to win, and they still lost. But because Eve filled her hand with the apple of sin, Jesus filled his hand with the nails of grace.
Forgiveness not by law, but by grace. That is how we win with God. Not by what we did, but by what God did for us.